When writing sestinas, most people choose their six words fairly randomly, but I like to make a phrase that I can unpack and repack as I go through, as I did with the example last time: how I love those six lines. I think this is why, when writing an essay about my yoga teacher, Erica Magro, didn’t work, and free verse didn’t work, I instinctively started writing sestinas. Those little things that she said were often between five and seven words. Like fly-fishing lures, they caught my wandering mind and hooked it and would not let go until I had worked it out through a poem. Here are just a few:
“The Writing Teacher at Yoga Class”: letting go after all that work.
“Tadasana: Mountain Pose”: now return to mountain stand tall
“The Yoga Teacher” (v 2.0): breathe space into bodies so patient
“Utthika Trikonasana: Extended Triangle Pose”: lifting your heart open to sky
“Shavasana: Corpse Pose”: wholeheartedly resting by means of shavasana
You start talking about one thing and then halfway through, if (when?) the magic happens, you find you are saying True Things. For example, here is an excerpt from “Utthika Trikonasana: Extended Triangle Pose.”
Wants free flight through the cerulean blue of open sky,
The terrifying free-fall of loving and being loved. To open
Up such an opportunity is incalculable risk. You trust lifting
Forces will hold you up, but the hard ground is a fact you
Can’t ignore, below you, waiting more patiently than sky to
Gather you up and keep you. Sky can’t keep you, only help to
Keep you standing straight, tall, with your beautiful heart
Practicing being open. I think of this in triangle pose, your
Legs a perfect V, one hand on the floor, one reaching for sky,
Your heart radically open. With the rest, I imitate you, lifting
My eyes to open up my chest, my heart, and keep it open.
It’s an odd way to see things, sideways, from below, open
To the world.
And of course that is the risk of poetry as well, opening heart and mind and keeping them open in a world that doesn’t make that easy. But I think that most disciplines teach the same lessons, whether it is poetry or yoga or martial arts or music. If you keep on seeing the world from an unusual angle, eventually, if you let it, it will change you.
Also, let’s face it: utthika trikonasana is just a whole lot of fun to say.
Ma, Kelvin. Erica Magro, Yoga Instructor. 2012. Kelvin Ma Photography. Web. 7 Aug. 2014. JPEG file.